Phillies Name Andy MacPhail New Team President

Andy MacPhail, new leader of the Phillies' front office, is seen during spring training baseball practice, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Andy MacPhail, new leader of the Phillies’ front office, is seen during spring training baseball practice, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

The Phillies have a message for their fans: We care about sabermetrics. They used the word a bunch. John Middleton, the most prominent member of the Phillies’ silent partnership, said it. Interim president Pat Gillick, who put together the Phillies’ 2008 championship team, said it. Andy MacPhail, who will be the new Phillies president at the end of the season, said it many, many times.

Sabermetrics, a term coined from the acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research, is at its core the empirical analysis of baseball (as Wikipedia puts it). But it’s also code for a way of thinking that values statistics over scouting when putting together a baseball club. The Phillies have been chastised for doing the opposite, such as relying on 7-year-old scouting reports when signing outfielder Delmon Young in 2012.

“I don’t care about walks,” General Manager Ruben Amaro said in January 2013. “I care about production. To be frank with you, I’ve said this all along. All of the sabermatricians and all of the people who think they know exactly what makes a good club… to me, it’s more about run production and being able to score runs and drive in runs.”

The Phillies clearly attempted to make introduction of MacPhail as president a new start for the franchise. The Phillies say they plan to be more forward-thinking. Middleton said the Phillies were creating a “custom-made system” for evaluating players, and said the team would hire new analysts sometime this season if they needed to. MacPhail didn’t say what that meant for general manager Ruben Amaro, but said he was looking to use statistics.

“In Chicago, I was the president and CEO,” MacPhail said. “I had a GM who I loved that was not very saber-friendly, but I made him hire two kids to help him with that. We used to use it in Minnesota, for God’s sake. We don’t really advertise it, why would we? … Nobody’s got all the tools. You have to hire people around you.” All three brought this up before being asked about it. Read more »

Ryne Sandberg Steps Down As Manager of the Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg watches from the dugout in the fifth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 19-3. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg watches from the dugout in the fifth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 19-3. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Ryne Sandberg, manager of the Phillies since 2013, has stepped down from his position today. The Phillies announced the move in an unusual 3:30 presser and via Twitter to their almost one million followers:

Sandberg said, “It’s still disappointing. I’m disappointed” to a reporter asking about his feelings on the matter. To a question regarding what spurred the resignation, Sandberg said, “The wins and losses is a big thing that took a toll on me.” Read more »

Phillies Expected to Name New Head of Baseball Operations

Andy MacPhail | Keith Allison (cropped). Phillies player | Jeff  Fusco

Andy MacPhail | Keith Allison (cropped). Phillies player | Jeff Fusco

Several sites have reported that the Phillies are expected to announce next week that Andy MacPhail has taken a job in the team’s front office. CBS Sports said MacPhail will “lead their operations.” CSN Philly first reported the Phillies had begun honing in on MacPhail earlier this month.

MacPhail is the kind of person the Phillies have generally liked for their front office positions: A baseball lifer. He won two World Series titles as general manager of the Minnesota Twins, then spent 12 years as CEO and president of the Chicago Cubs. After that, he was president of the Baltimore Orioles for four years. He is such a baseball lifer that he is literally the descendant of two Hall of Famers: former baseball executive Larry MacPhail (his grandfather) and American League President Lee MacPhail (his dad).

He’d replace interim president Pat Gillick — architect of the 2008 World Series championship team — who has been in the role since last year. David Montgomery took a leave of absence after cancer surgery in August; he returned to the team as chairman in January. Read more »

It’s Time to Get Excited About Maikel Franco, Phillies Fans

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco watches his three-run home run against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning of an inter-league baseball game at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2015.

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco watches his three-run home run against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning of an inter-league baseball game at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2015.

Move over, Fishtown! The New York Times is excited about something else in Philadelphia. Okay, so this isn’t the NYT hunting out a neighborhood in Philly and writing things about it that are possibly hilarious to locals. This is even weirder: The paper is waxing poetic about a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yes, Phillies fans, even the Times has noticed: Maikel Franco is tearing it up. The story opens with a few paragraphs of praise then quotes Yankees manager Joe Girardi: “The way he swung the bat, the defensive play that he made, the arm strength that he showed — obviously he’s a very talented kid. And to be thrust into a major league lineup hitting third at such a young age is extremely impressive.”  Read more »

Cole Hamels’ Locker Emptied, Nameplate Removed (As a Joke)

COLE-HAMELS-Lynne-sladky-ap-940x540

The Phillies ended their 9-game losing streak today with a 2-1 win over Baltimore, with both runs coming on a Ryan Howard sixth-inning homer. (The Orioles actually led off the game with a homer.)

Earlier in the day, the Phillies announced Cole Hamels would skip his next start with a mild hamstring tear in his right leg. Phillippe Aumont, who came to the Phillies in the first Cliff Lee trade, will start instead. After the game, however, someone had removed Cole Hamels’ nameplate and emptied out his locker.

AP sports reporter (and reality star) Rob Maaddi noticed.

Had Hamels been traded? Speculation swirled on Twitter… for five minutes, until the team said he was still a Phillie. Read more »

Utley Yells at Pitching Coach in Phillies’ Latest Debacle

Last night, the Phillies finished up an eight-game road trip where they went 0-8. It was the team’s longest winless road trip since 1883, when the Phillies — in their first year of existence — went 0-9. The Phillies are now 22-44, the worst record in the league.

But last night’s loss was much more embarrassing. The Orioles hit eight homers and won, 19-3. The Phillies were down 12-0 after three innings. Baltimore scored in every inning except the seventh — where the Orioles went down 1-2-3 to Phillies’ outfielder Jeff Francoeur, making the first pitching appearance of his major league career.

But things didn’t go so well for Francoeur in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer, then hit a batter and walked two more. The Phillies still had several pitchers available in the bullpen, so you’d think they would have brought one in to get the final two outs. But there was a problem.

The bullpen phone was off the hook. Read more »

The Phillies Drafted a Bunch of Players Related to Guys They Employ

The MLB Draft is over, and the Phillies seemed to do OK: They took a shortstop in the first round who says he is “pretty confident” he’ll sign soon and is open to a conversion to the outfield. They took 27 college players and 13 high school ones. And at the end of the draft’s third day today, they took several players who are related to people who work for the team.

The Phillies took relatives of the general manager, the AAA manager, a former player coaching the team’s AA affiliate and an announcer. Let’s look at it in a table:

Round
Player Drafted
Position
Relation
35th Andrew AmaroOFRuben Amaro's nephew
38th Beau BrundageSSDave Brundage's son
39thGriffin MorandiniCFMickey Morandini's son
40thTommy McCarthy3BTom McCarthy's son
50thJoseph PhanaticLHPPhillie Phanatic's son
75thRyan Smith1BFriend of ticket-taker
102ndArnold ThompsonSSLucky season-ticket holder

Okay, I may have made up those last three picks. If only they were true!

The Phillies were participating in a great baseball tradition today in, at least, those last two picks of their draft (48th and 49th). It is customary in baseball circles to draft people as favors. Here’s why: The MLB draft goes a max of 40 rounds. A team can even “pass” on picking in a round. So, teams figure, why not do something nice for a relative of someone in the organization? Read more »

Work Resumes on Walnut Street Phillies Mural

mural_400x400The city is back to work on a larger-than-life mural celebrating Phillies history.

The mural, designed by artist David McShane — who has been behind other baseball-related murals curated by the Mural Arts Program — and painted by members of the Phillies (including Mike Schmidt) and greater Philadelphia communities, will come to fruition over the next seven weeks, according to KYW. That’s just in time for Phillies Alumni Weekend July 31st-August 2nd. Read more »

What They’re Saying About Cornelius Randolph

The surely-they’re-rebuilding-now Phillies picked 10th in the MLB draft Monday night and came away with Cornelius Randolph, said to be the best high school hitter in the country. Here’s what else they’re saying about him. Read more »

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